India lose to Colombia at FIFA U-17 World Cup

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New Delhi, Oct 9 (IANS) India lost by a slender 1-2 margin to Colombia in a Group A fixture of the FIFA U-17 World Cup at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Monday.

A brace from Juan Penaloza (49th, 83rd minute) helped the visitors seal their first victory and earn three points.

Jeakson Thounaojam etched his name in India’s football history in the 82nd minute when he headed in off a corner to become the first Indian to score at a FIFA World Cup at any age group.

Both India and Colombia were looking to find their first victory in the tournament, after losing to the US and Ghana respectively in their initial fixtures.

Monday’s loss means that India will have to beat Ghana by a big margin in their last group match and hope that Colombia lose to the US in order to enter the knockout phase.

India coach Luis Norton de Matos started with their star winger Komal Thatal on bench. Forward Aniket Jadhav, midfielder Suresh Wangjam and defender Jintendra Singh who started against the US in the opener were all on the bench.

The defence saw Boris Thangjam returning to the starting XI.

The match began with both Colombia and India playing a procession of long balls from defence to forward in order to find a breakthrough.

The South Americans initially tried to cause problems for the Indian defence by taking long throws to penetrate, but failing to get past the defenders.

In the 15th minute, forward Abhijit Sarkar got the first chance for India from the box, but the close-range shot was prevented by Colombian goalkeeper Kevin Mier.

Colombian players used their physicality time and again to win tackles and break-up play.

India midfielder Ninthoinganba Meetei, who looked to use the flanks well with his pace and agility was brought down by the physically stronger Colombian players with ease.

Centre-back Anwar Ali for India showed his determination, disallowing the opponents to take advantage.

Later, Indian goalkeeper Dheeraj rose to the occasion making critical saves, denying Colombian Leandro Campaz in the 36th minute and Yadir Meneses in the 41st minute.

In the dying minutes of the first-half, forward Rahul Kannoly, who was left unmarked got the best chance for India but his 22-yard off the goal returned back hitting the post.

The score at half-time remained 0-0, with 68% possession dominated by the away side.

In the second-half, the morale of the Indian team suddenly looked down after giving away the opening goal. Colombia took it to their advantage and advanced time and again on the flanks, where the hosts left spaces wide open for the opponents to attack.

Penaloza broke the deadlock for Colombia in the second half, running into space and sending a curling ball inches above Indian goalkeeper Dheeraj Moirangthem to the far corner.

India responded by scoring the equaliser from a corner delivered by Sanjeev Stalin which was headed in by Jeakson, who was left unmarked at the near post.

The celebration of India’s first ever FIFA World Cup goal did not last long as Peneloza timed his run to perfection and scored the winner for Colombia in the very next minute.

In the final minutes of the match, India tried to combine and utilise the precious moments to find an equaliser but failed to do so giving away too many balls to the strong Colombia attack.

–IANS

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